Monthly Archives: September 2007

Is it ‘that simple’

I’ve been busy blogging at Faith Works Blog today, so if you are interested in what I have to say please check it out.

I have also updated my FAQ page, and included my major post to the faith works blog on my FAQ page.

cheers all

OzAtheist

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Condoms Infected With AIDS

Those Catholics are at it again, they still don’t want people to use condoms. So if they can’t convince or bully them, then they try scaring them.

ABC news reports:

The head of the Catholic Church in Mozambique is reportedly claiming that condoms and some drug treatments are deliberately infected with the AIDS virus as a part of an international plot to kill African people.

This would be funny if it wasn’t so sad that millions are dying from AIDS because the Catholic church won’t let them use condoms.

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Educate, Agitate, Legislate!

I heard this term on TV last night from a Professor of Sociology at Harvard, in regard to the Jena 6 (sorry, I forget his name). By all accounts this concept has been used many times in the past to produce change in society, particularly in America.

  • The Women’s Christian Temperance Union used it in 1874, other temperance societies at the time sometimes added ‘consecrate’ to the list.
  • Women’s Clubs at the turn of the century used the motto to improve the lot of women and children.
  • The method was also used during the civil rights movement.

‘Educate, Agitate, Legislate!’ is exactly what we need to combat the religious strangle hold on government policies and laws. The general public needs to be Educated as to why we should have a secular government and complete separation of church and state. We need people to Agitate (thanks Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, PZ Myers, et al) to get the message out there. Lastly we need to Legislate to enshrine separation of church and state in our constitution.

Perhaps ‘Educate, Agitate, Legislate!’ should be the new catch phrase of all atheists? Not just for the separation of church and state in constitutions, but in respect to anything in which the religious sector gets some sort of preference or endorsement.

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Why do Atheists Speak Out?

 

There have been several responses to this load of tripe:

http://www.nwanews.com/nwat/Editorial/57451/

The best I have read so far is this:

http://atheistexperience.blogspot.com/2007/09/why-do-atheists-speak-out-this-is-why.html

There is nothing else I could add to Martin’s letter except to advertise it as far and wide as possible.

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Avatar: The Last Airbender – the new Atheist Manifesto?

For a kids cartoon this often has some pretty funny one-liners, and I’m guessing an atheist or two is on the writing team.

The show centers around three main characters: Aang, Katara, and Sokka (Sokka is very cynical and skeptical of just about everything); getting over the whole: air, water, fire, earth bending stuff being very much beyond any physical reality (hey, its a kids cartoon after all) there are often some very atheistic/scientific comments made.

The episode played on ABC tonight (The Fortuneteller, Episode No: 14, Season No: 1, originally released in 2005) was about the group meeting a fortune teller (Aunt Wu), who specialises in reading the clouds to decide if the local volcano is going to erupt. Not surprisingly the volcano starts to erupt but none of the villagers believe our group when they try and tell them, because the fortune teller told them it wasn’t going to happen.

There are some fantastic comments in this episode that point out how people will believe in anything, or twist words to match what they already believe in. Here’s some I liked:

Sokka (To “red shoe guy”): I bet Aunt Wu told you to wear those shoes.
Red Shoe Guy: Sure did. She said I’d be wearing red shoes when I met my true love.
Sokka: Uh-huh. And how many times have you worn those shoes since you got the fortune?
Red Shoe Guy: Every day.
Sokka (furiosuly): Then of course it’s going to come true!
Red Shoe Guy: Really?! You think so?! I’m so excited!

or this:

Sokka: Can your fortune telling explain that?! (points to volcano eruption)
Villager: Can your science explain why it rains?
Sokka: Yes! Yes it can!

or this, after the group changes a cloud so that Aunt Wu now thinks the volcano is going to erupt (even though it has already started to) and warns the villagers, who now believe its erupting and help the group, through some amazing and not very scientific methods, save the village:

Calm Man: But Aunt Wu predicted the village wouldn’t be destroyed and it wasn’t. She was right after all.
Sokka: I hate you.

If you get a chance watch this episode. I believe you can download individual episodes from tv.com which is where I got the quotes from, or buy the lot on DVD. Might have to obtain a copy just for this episode.

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Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation – FlyBuys

Just got an email from Flybuys letting me know how many points I currently have, and some ways to spend them.

One of the things listed was donating them (10,000 points at a time) to the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation, so I just did.

This has got nothing to do with my usual blogging, and I’m not trying to ‘big note’ myself or anything, I just thought I’d use this forum to encourage others to do the same. I’ve known a few people with cancer, my father-in-law died because of it, so any little thing I can do, including trying to convince other to donate, I hope helps in some way.

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Belonging

Do we all want to, or need to, belong to something?

Over at Pharyngula, and I’m sure many other sites, there is a discussion on an article,
Moral Psychology and the Misunderstanding of Religion by Jonathan Haidt, in which he states “religious believers in the United States are happier, healthier, longer-lived, and more generous to charity”. Now I’m not going to discuss all the ins-and-outs of this article, more, and better educated, people than me have already done this. I just wanted to discuss one aspect of the preposed “more generous to charity” quote, particularly in relation to belonging to a group.

There are various thoughts as to why religious groups appear [1] to volunteer more often, or organise and/or donate to charities more. Comment #33 on Pharyngula’s site cites 2 good reasons why. However, I have a third theory which relates to people wanting to belong to a group.

Its far easier to organise something when in a group, and religious groups have been around for a long time. I know from experience that some (perhaps, many) church goers like the aspect of belonging to a group and having lots of group activities to get involved in, more than the actual religious aspect of that group.

Its not surprising that throughout England and Australia lots of small towns have at least 1 church, and 1 pub! It gives people somewhere to go to meet, and often to help each other or the community. Churches have often provided an opportunity for a group of people to get together under a common idea. Communities, especially small communities, need to work cohesively, particularly in times of trouble (eg. drought), and church groups, often being the main, or only, organised group within a community were in the prime position to perform this role.

So it is hardly surprising that religious groups were [2] in the forefront of charitable works.

However, this does not necessarily equate to them doing charitable works because they are religious. Perhaps its just because they are already in a group that like doing things together?

There are not that many atheist groups around, (To me it seems a bit odd to have a group that gets together because they don’t believe in something. TIC) so its not overly suprising that there aren’t many ‘atheist charities’. However, there are quite a few charities that are not aligned to any religious group, but have arisen through some other common denominator. Its to these charities that atheists should be supporting.

Lastly, I pose this question:

Is being part of a group more important than all the things that group stands for?

[1] I say appear as there are conflicting studies on this
[2] I say were as I’m not sure they are still the main source of charitable works (see above)

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